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Tactical Review of AC Milan’s Determined 2-0 Victory Against AS Roma At An Empty San Siro

Milan played a disciplined but infuriating 90 minutes of football but emerged with a major victory.

AC Milan v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

AC Milan beat AS Roma 2-0 at the San Siro after a cagey first half. Rebic and Calhanoglu scored to close the gap to six points between the sides. Here’s the game in review:

Rebic’s Stunning Form Continues

For long spells of this game, Rebic was isolated and hopelessly chasing long balls. The work rate of the Croatia international did stand out as he never stop labouring. He chased down every loose ball, hounded the Roma defence when they were in possession and played in his teammates with nifty little touches throughout the game. Most importantly, he took his singular chance on goal. the opportunity where Mirante spilled the ball and Calhanoglu lightly set him up, Rebic hammered the ball at the goal and was agile enough to react and score on his second rebound shot. This determination will be key in the next couple of games and his scoring streak is encouraging.

Pioli Nailed The Subs and Changed The Game

Stefano Pioli deserves huge plaudits as a home win over AS Roma is a huge deal especially when the game is a ‘six pointer’ for the Europa League spots. He got the substitutions absolutely right and was ballsy enough to put his some energy early into the second half. Saelemaekers and Paqueta added speed and flair to the attacks which put enormous pressure on Roma before they eventually were overwhelmed. Both subs played a role in the opening goal as Paqueta’s run down the wing and cross started the play, Saelemaekers put the ball in for Kessie’s shot before Rebic scored the rebound. Pioli got it right and won himself a massive three points.

Kessie and Bennacer Shut Down Roma

This midfield partnership is getting me extremely excited for the upcoming games. The duo look in sync and have been bossing the centre of the park. Kessie has grown so much under Pioli in the 4-3-2-1 and looks a completely different player to the first half of the season. The simple passing and tackling suits him well and his confidence is growing as he puts in another good shift. Also, his acrobatic shot on goal led to opener as Rebic scored the rebound. Bennacer being free to roam also helped the side a lot in the second half as he added some dynamism and urgency to the play. These two are helping bring some stability to the side.

Odd First Half; Exhaustion?

The first half of this game seems irrelevant now but needs to be addressed. The team looked languid - as dubbed by Peter on the SBNRossonero Twitter - as they barely moved out of their half and seemed clueless on what to do with the ball. Hernandez look lethargic, Calhanoglu was lacking ideas, Castillejo and Bonaventura were lacklustre and Conti was his usual average. I am not sure whether this was the game plan to exhaust Roma, was it the blistering heat exhausting the players or a mental exhaustion but this type of play will not fly in the upcoming games against Lazio and Juventus, we will be punished.

Kjaer, The Defender We Deserve

Undoubtedly, Kjaer was the MOTM against Roma and has been perhaps one of the best players since his move in January. The defender is fearless and plays with grit, he chases down the ball fiercely and often pressures the opposition not giving them time to receive passes. His long balls and passing ability in general are huge assets that have given Milan a new dimension of play. Most importantly, he managed to keep the Roma attack quiet and blocked three dangerous shots on goal. He has partnered exceptionally with Romagnoli and brought some calm to the defence thus earning a crucial clean sheet.